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🌟 Please join me in welcoming author Tanya Chris to Stories That Make You Smile. Tanya is here today celebrating the release of her fabulous new novel, Him Improvement! She’s generously brought along a lovely excerpt (I’m sold…I preordered it a week ago based on that snippet), a giveaway, and has taken time out of her busy life to sit down with us for a discussion about her new book, her writing…and surely we can all agree she has superb taste when it comes to her favorite underappreciated novel! 😉 🌟
Him Improvement by Tanya Chris
Mac can change entire neighborhoods, but can he change Hailey’s mind?
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: September 3, 2019
Length: Novel / 60k words / 161 pages
Heat Rating: 4 flames
Pairing / Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance, enemies to lovers, opposites attract, millionaire, age gap, gentrification, compromise
The course of true love runs through every neighborhood….
Only one thing stands between Gregory MacPherson II and his dream revitalization project for the gritty neighborhood of Ball’s End: a rinky-dink, run-down used bookstore called Hailey’s Comic. But when master negotiator Mac shows up to make a deal with the owner, he comes face-to-face with quirky, colorful Hailey—unexpectedly good-humored about Mac’s attempted eviction and, also unexpectedly, a hot guy.
Hailey won’t give up his lease, no matter how much money Mac offers. When it comes to consummating their mutual attraction, though, he’s a lot more flexible. Soon Mac has as hard a time prying himself out of Hailey’s bed as he does prying Hailey out of the building. But Hailey doubts Mac’s plans serve Ball’s End’s best interests, and he insists Mac give him a chance to prove his case. If they’re going to build a happy ever after, one of them will have to be remade….
GREGORY MacPherson II didn’t have the time or the patience to make a personal trip to a bookstore, but here he was. Alone.
No patrons roamed the narrow aisles formed by overstuffed bookshelves. No clerk waited at the vintage cash register sitting on top of a linoleum-covered counter barely capable of holding its weight. No one rushed to greet him from behind the tawdry multicolored curtain hanging at the back of the store.
From where he stood only a few feet inside the doorway, leery of allowing anything in the dusty hodgepodge to brush against his suit, he could see straight down the center aisle all the way to the back of the store. It was a thirty-foot-by-sixty-foot shoebox, longer than it was wide, one of four retail spaces on the ground floor of the six-story brick building and the only one still open. Which was why Gregory MacPherson II, commonly referred to as Mac, had personally dragged himself down here.
How the place could stay in business without any workers, never mind customers, was a mystery he didn’t intend to solve. He was there to shut the place down, not rescue it, though in the few short minutes he’d been exposed to Hailey’s Comic, he could already list a half-dozen ways to improve its profitability.
That sign out front, for instance. It was a purple whirlwind of planets, well done if you were going for an acid-trip vibe, but the name implied there’d be comics, and the sign implied there’d be comets. Or drugs. And from what he could see, there were neither. If an establishment wanted to bring in customers, it needed to make clear the services it provided and establish confidence that it would provide them well.
Then there was the matter of actually waiting on the customers you did bring in. A bell had tinkled as he’d entered, but apparently only for its own enjoyment.
“Hello?” He raised his voice to a level that couldn’t be ignored and had a brief moment to wonder if he really was completely alone before a head and a hand appeared around the edge of the curtain.
“Mercy, you scared me,” the head said. It belonged to a young man and had a mop of brown hair piled on top of it, a few shades lighter than Mac’s own reddish brown. “Sorry, I didn’t hear the bell. Give me a minute. I’m sort of in flagrante delicto.” The head disappeared.
“In flagrante delicto doesn’t mean naked, you know,” Mac told the air where the head had been. “It means you were caught doing something you shouldn’t have been. Something sexual.”
“Now, now. It’s never wrong to masturbate. There.” The head reappeared, this time attached to a body that gave Mac a startlingly clear vision of how it would look masturbating. The man was stringy, taller than Mac’s six- foot frame, but lean and underdeveloped—the body of a person who spent a lot of time reading. Or jerking off.
“What can I help you with?” He was in his mid-twenties, so perhaps ten years younger than Mac, dressed in jeans laddered with intentional rips, each the same two inches wide, running down his thighs like claw marks. His face was clean-shaven, fresh with his youth, and Mac wondered how his skin would react to having Mac’s tightly trimmed beard rubbed all over it.
“You’re free to browse around, even if I’m not out here.”
Mac added lax security to the mental list he was pointlessly compiling. “I need to speak to the owner.”
Hailey Green, owner of Hailey’s Comic, was the only thing standing in the way of his plans to revitalize this misbegotten section of Ballhaven, which plan started with this very brick building and would ultimately lead to Ball’s End—as everyone called it; he’d have to do something about the branding—becoming the newest hot spot for millennials to eat, drink, shop, and live. Urban revitalization was Mac’s business, and Hailey Green was Mac’s problem.
“Still me,” the man said, tilting his head to the side as if to take in Mac’s appearance more carefully. Mac hadn’t changed clothes before driving down to Ball’s End, though he could’ve guessed the place would be dirty. He’d been reading a report on the effort to clear 502 Main Street of its tenants and had made an abrupt decision to come down and take care of ridding the building of its final holdout himself.
☆ Author Interview ☆
Tell us a little about yourself and your writing goals.
I write in a mish-mash of genres, and my goal is to keep expanding the number of genres I write in because there’s always something new to try. I mostly concentrate on M/M these days, although I do have some M/F available. I write committed monogamous relationships, closed triads, and open relationships. Some of it is BDSM, some is vanilla, and I have a separate pen name (T. M. Chris) that writes super kinky novellas. Most of my books are contemporaries, but I do have a series of shapeshifting wolves, and there may be a vampire in my future. I also have a historical (time travel) with a Regency romance on the way. So really, I run the gamut.
Congratulations on your new release. Please tell us a little bit about it. What’s your favorite aspect or part of the story? Do you have a favorite character? Who/Why?
My current release is Him Improvement, a vanilla contemporary that could roughly be called enemies-to-lovers, although these two guys who’re on opposite sides of an important issue always treat each other respectfully. I’m not likely to ever write pure hate enemies-to-lovers, because I like to see my characters work as a team and improve each other. Which is what happens in this book.
Mac was born to privilege but he’s also a hard worker who’s trying to use his money and connections to improve a run-down neighborhood. Hailey is the Bohemian owner of a used bookstore, living on the edge of poverty but enjoying the neighborhood he lives in. When Mac shows up to evict him, Hailey has some things to teach Mac about what community means.
Hailey is super sweet, so it’s impossible not to like him, but my heart goes out to Mac who’s learning some tough lessons and confronting the possibility that he might be wrong for the first time in his life. Most of the book is from his point of view, so we really see his struggle firsthand.
Do deadlines motivate you or block you? How do you deal with them?
They motivate me. I’m something of a procrastinator. Without a deadline, I might never get anything done. Most of my books are self-published, which means I set my own schedule, but I hold myself to a tight one. Him Improvement was my first time working with a publisher (Dreamspinner) where I had external deadlines. It’s been nice leaving the publication aspect in someone else’s capable hands.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Action scenes—if people have to physically fight especially, but any scene where the movement is more important than the dialogue. My brain thinks in words, not pictures. The exception to that is sex scenes. Those come easily to me for some reason, but even there I’m concentrating more on what’s being said and felt than on the mechanics of it. My editor had a lot of “what position are they in, exactly?” comments on this manuscript.
What advice would you give to newbie writers?
Find a process that works for you. Don’t worry about anyone else’s process. Some people binge-write, some people write slow-and-steady. Some plot, some pants, and lots of people hybrid the two. There’s no “right” way, so if someone tells you they know the right one, they’re wrong. And if you’re struggling to write, maybe you haven’t found your process yet. Try another one, even if it’s not what your literary heroes do.
What is your favorite underappreciated novel?
Funnily enough, it’s one of yours. I’m a big fan of To Love and Cherish. I even have it listed on the Favorite Reads section of my website. It’s such a sweet romance about two really good people forming a believable bond. Plus, I love both fake-relationship and amnesia tropes, so it hits all my buttons.
[Addison: Wow! Thank you so much, Tanya! 💞]
How do you select the names of your characters?
Through a long, painstaking process that involves moaning to my friends and sudden renames in the middle of a book. Finding the perfect character name is so important but so hard, and men are the worst. There are thousands of great women’s names, but men only have about six to choose from and I’ve already used most of them. Eventually I’m going to have to stop writing M/M because I will have run out.
☆ Thanks, Addison!
[Addison: Thank YOU, Tanya, and best wishes with your new release. I need to scurry on over to Dreamspinner and pick up my preorder. 😁]
Meet the Author
Tanya Chris writes feminist-friendly romance in a variety of sub-genres and pairings–most especially M/M. Born on the West Coast and raised on the East Coast, she’s fact-based but thirsty for justice, and her books often include an examination of a current social issue, even when they’re set in the past. As a lifelong genre-hopping reader herself, she admires character-driven work with a message, regardless of the form it takes.
Tanya is an avid rock climber, a long-distance runner, and a participant in her local community theater where she has tackled most roles, including playwright, actor, director, producer, and stage manager. Her travels, both for climbing trips and for cultural exploration, have brought her to places as fascinating as Egypt and as beautiful as the Dolomites, though there’s no place like home.
Tanya is best known to readers for having written Aftercare and to writers for the quote “Writer culture is researching what degree is needed to be a paleontologist so your shapeshifting vampire dinosaur erotica will be authentic.” Her website features dozens of free stories, including the aforementioned (and highly authentic) shapeshifting vampire dinosaur erotica.
Blog/Website | Facebook | Twitter (@tanyachrs) | Newsletter | BookBub | Amazon
Also by Tanya Chris
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2 thoughts on “BLOG TOUR – INTERVIEW – Him Improvement by Tanya Chris – #Excerpt #Giveaway #Interview”
I’ve recently become a fan of this author, so I’m adding this to my TBR 🙂
This one is solidly on my TBR. Scheduled even. I’ve got it queued up to read on the treadmill starting on the 15th. 😁